DIY Cape Breton kitchen sign

DIY Cape Breton kitchen sign {Heather's Handmade Life}

Everyone’s making pallet signs these days, and you’ve probably seen them all over Pinterest. The idea is to take rustic barnboard-style wood and paint a word or phrase on it, and then hang it on the wall.

A lot of people are selling these — and they’re not cheap — so when a good friend texted to ask what I might charge for one, I told her I’d make one for a birthday gift and share the steps with you guys.

Now, this friend is a proud Cape Bretoner (so is her husband) and they love having dance parties in their kitchen with their two young children — who are almost-five and almost-seven, like my kids. She had her heart set on a sign that said ‘Our kitchen is for dancing’ and wanted it to fit over a doorway, but left the other design details up to me.

I started by figuring out what lettering to use. I headed to and decided I liked the cute curves of the Sweet Sensations font. It’s free to download most of these fonts (for personal use) but I don’t usually bother. I just type my phrase into the preview bar and then take a screenshot of it.

In order for the words to print out large enough for a sign, I have to break the screenshot into separate photos — otherwise the sign could only be as large as a piece of printer paper. I used the Paint program on the computer to divide up the words and print them on three separate sheets so they’d be the right size.

Now I had to build something to put those words on! My friend had given me the length of her doorway, so I cut six 1×2” boards to be slightly shorter than that. Four of them would be the back of the sign, where the words go, and two would be used to frame the top and bottom of the sign. Then I just had to cut two small pieces of 1×2 to frame out either end.

I painted the main part of the sign a nice neutral greige (“Algonquin” by Fusion Mineral Paint) and painted the frame black. And, yes, it would have been much easier to paint everything before I screwed it all together, but I never seem to do things in the “right” order.

Then it was time for the lettering. The hardest part of making a hand-painted sign isn’t the hand-painting — it’s transferring the outline of your letters onto the wood. 

One way to do this would be to cut out every single letter, spread them out on the wood, and then trace around them with a pencil. I used to do this and it certainly gives you crisp results, but it takes forever. 

So I tried my favourite method of scribbling on the back of the paper with a pencil (to get it nice and smudgy) and then tracing the letters — hard — on the front of the paper to transfer a light outline onto your surface. 

Unfortunately, the pencil was too close to the paint colour so I couldn’t see the outline very clearly. I ended up using a tiny screwdriver to essentially “scrape” the outline of the words through the paper and onto the wood — ouch! It’s hard on the hands to grip something so tightly for detailed work.

The only benefit of scraping your letters — rather than tracing them — is that there are little indents in the wood that keep your paint from seeping over your lines. Filling in the letters with black paint went pretty quickly, and then there was nothing more to do than wait for the sign to dry.

My friend was happy with her birthday gift and told me they’ve had many dance parties in her kitchen under their new sign.

Let’s hope its bracket holds it up there securely, because when both of their families comes down from Cape Breton, it can get pretty wild in that kitchen!

Don’t forget to pin this idea to come back to it later!

Pin this idea for later!


3 Comments on “DIY Cape Breton kitchen sign

  1. Love this so much!! As a Cape Bretoner myself, we are always having “Dance Parties” in our kitchen 🙂 I just might make a sign similar to this for our kitchen ❤


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